This week marked a joyous occasion in Hexile’s journey. For the first time since development began, all team members were in the same city, and gathered under the same roof! No more Push to Talk on Discord for our weekly meeting--we could just talk!
From the beginning, Hexile has been a project comprised of people working remotely. We’re thrilled that our weekly team meetings can happen face-to-face now, but navigating remote work has also been an important growing experience, that has greatly influenced the nature and culture of our studio. For this week’s development blog, we thought we’d share a few things about how we run our game studio with remote team members.
Remote team members cannot be treated as second-class citizens
The most important thing about working remotely is that all team members, regardless of proximity, need to be treated the same. There’s nothing worse than someone taking a week to work remotely, and then coming back to find that everything has changed while they were gone. Remote teammates shouldn't be at a disadvantage because they're not in the same place as other teammates, and they're no less important than in-office team members or in-office work. All team members need to be managed the same way, with consistent expectations for communication on both ends.
Meetings don’t need to be face-to-face (but they should be voice-to-voice)
Having discussions about progress and the allocation of work is an important component of any group project. For us, that meant a weekly meeting where we checked in with each other about the past week, looked at what still needed to be done, and assigned ourselves work for the coming week. It’s never been easier or more convenient for people who aren’t in the same place to talk to one another. We found that group voice calls in Discord worked well for our needs, but we also could have done Skype, Google Hangouts, or a conference call.
Theoretically, we also could have communicated through text channels or an email chain, but having verbal conversations facilitated team bonding, and gave people more immediate opportunities to voice their objections or agreements. We’re a small enough team (five members) that a voice call doesn’t get too disorganized.
Agendas: make them
Speaking of organization, to help us make the most of our time in weekly meetings, we also have a channel in our Discord server that’s just for topics we want to cover at the meeting. It helps us stay on track and remember everything (or almost everything!) that we want to cover. We try to be organized and prioritize using the meeting time well, since we’re only talking together once per week.
Communication is key
The common denominator for everything we’ve learned about remote work is communication. Communicating effectively is necessary for any team to be successful, but for remote work, since you’re not seeing the people everyday, there are more hurdles to clear in order to reach the same level of communication as an in-office team. We can’t just pop over to each others' desks on a whim to check in with them. Communicating with a remote team just requires a different level of intentionality and prioritization.
Eddy based most of our remote work culture around Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, and highly recommends it for anyone interested in working remotely.